Sheffield United: James Shield’s weekly column

TRANMERE ROVERS  v SHEFFIELD UNITED    30.3.13'Pic : Martyn Harrison'Barry Robson - Sheff Utd''� BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
TRANMERE ROVERS v SHEFFIELD UNITED 30.3.13'Pic : Martyn Harrison'Barry Robson - Sheff Utd''� BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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FOUR points from games against Tranmere Rovers and Carlisle?

Ask Sheffield United whether they would have been satisfied with this return before last weekend’s round of fixtures and the answer would definitely be ‘yes.’

The reason why the prevailing mood around Bramall Lane following Monday’s visit of Greg Abbott’s side was one of disappointment, though, is because the haul was achieved the wrong way around.

Having beaten Rovers, who had started the match a place above Danny Wilson’s charges, being held by opponents languishing at the other end of the table was never going to set pulses racing among the rank and file.

If United, now fourth and with games in hand on all of their promotion rivals, can maintain that two points per game average between now and the end of the season they will probably go up.

Listening to some of the comments after the stalemate with Carlisle, however, and you could be forgiven for thinking Wilson’s charges are busted flush with absolutely no chance of reaching the Championship next term.

Which, of course, is complete rubbish. Not to mention self-indulgent, navel-gazing nonsense.

Nevertheless, there is no escaping the fact that failing to overcome the Cumbrians represented a huge missed opportunity for United.

Had they done so then, all things being equal following tomorrow’s outing at Walsall, there would have been a whole lot less riding on re-arranged fixtures with Crawley Town and Brentford.

Wilson, like all his managerial counterparts, is fond of reminding we must take things ‘one game at a time.’

If so, despite their recent creditable returns, then United’s Bank Holiday programme finished on a low note.

Yours truly shares some of the former Northern Ireland international’s frustrations about the apparent willingness in some quarters to run his team down.

But neither can football folk have it both ways. Bend principles and mantras to suit.

United, whatever their detractors might say, are a bloody good outfit.

But they do have their failings. The most obvious being, as an unwelcome hat-trick of goalless draws at home demonstrates, is an inability to prise apart well-drilled defences.

Several glaring chances were missed against Carlisle but, in truth, not enough were created. Well, expertly engineered ones at least.

United have enjoyed 19 attempts on target during their previous three outings in South Yorkshire and not scored once.

Their last three on the road have produced 14 and three. Despite a lower possession percentage.

So, seeing as it’s a game of opinions, I’ll end this column by venturing one of my own.

Ensure the player with the most experience, match-craft, vision and probably sheer force of personality becomes United’s fulcrum.

Barry Robson. Who, Wilson can take heart from knowing, was foolishly written off as a ‘has-been’ by many when he first arrived.